- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Earle Knapp’s flip response to Charles County Commissioner Debra Davis’ honest inquiry about grant funding for the Master Gardeners, as reported in the Independent, was extremely dismaying [“Commissioners distribute largesse to 23 charities,” May 4].
He refers to the grant application the Master Gardeners submitted several years ago to the Grants Advisory Panel that he chairs, but if he looked at our application at all, he knows that the Master Gardeners aren’t about “planting flowers.”
When our application for funding to hire a part-time Master Gardener coordinator was unsuccessful, we observed that the Grants Advisory Panel was composed only of people involved in the social services sector and that the panel’s advice was to give grant money to organizations in that same sector, not to other groups that work to improve people’s lives.
We therefore decided to spend our volunteer time working to improve lives rather than completing massive applications for a panel that is blind to the value of our work.
Instead, a request for funding for a coordinator has been included in University of Maryland Extension budgets but has never been funded by the county.
A couple of examples of something we are doing besides “planting flowers” will be of value. Another Master Gardener and I are working with residents in a new development in Charles County. They need help in finding ways, and assistance, to prevent their homes from literally sliding down into ravines. It’s a mystery why the houses were built the way they were, but now the homeowners are stuck.
Another example: We have a long-running project working with inmates at the Charles County Detention Center. This project began as horticulture classes taught by Master Gardeners, and has expanded to development of a garden — the fresh produce of which provides food for needy people in our area. There may be a few flowers planted in that garden, but if so, it’s the inmates stuck behind walls who get to view them from their windows.
As volunteers who make do with limited support, we try to build community awareness of our work, both so that we can serve the community more effectively, and so that hopefully someday we will receive institutional support that will enable us to be even more effective.
One crack like Mr. Knapp’s from a supposedly well-informed community leader can undo many hours of work by Master Gardeners who try to get the word out.
Jessica Milstead, Chicamuxen